I was reminded of this story the other day at dinner with old friends.
I once worked at a company back in the ’90s with an incredible string of financial results, continuing growth of revenue and profits every quarter. Then one quarter, we weren’t going to make it. Come up short. End of the universe. Panic.
A sales rep showed up near the end of a quarter with a big deal he was near to closing. The deal would have made a difference but wouldn’t have got us to the number. He asked, “should I push to get this closed, or let it drift a bit til next quarter?” (revenue management is a practice as old as the hills). A senior finance person, who shall remain nameless, uttered the famous words. “Don’t finish it up this quarter…..
If you’re going to eat shit, don’t nibble.”
What that person meant was, we were going to take a beating from the market whether we missed by a penny or a pound. We might as well take our lumps and get it out all of the way at once, and get back on track next quarter. Mostly the same pain either way.
Somewhat akin to the old adage about ripping the bandaid off quickly rather than slowly, if you’ve got a problem, deal with all of it. Don’t let it linger.